Additional Resources for Grants and Proposals

THE INTERNET HAS BEEN A MIXED BLESSING INSOFAR AS PROSPECTING FOR AND RESPONDING TO GRANT AND CONTRACT OPPORTUNITIES. ON THE ONE HAND, THE INFORMATION IS ALL THERE (IF YOU KNOW WHERE TO LOOK). ON THE OTHER HAND, UNLESS YOU'VE BEEN IN THIS BUSINESS FOR A LONG TIME, THE INFORMATION CAN BE OVERWHELMING.

The hunt for opportunities - A changing landscape

Twenty years ago, large agencies had to plan ahead and publicize a regular schedule of limited solicitations via annual mailings and word-of-mouth. The internet enabled sponsors to become more agile in their offerings and deadlines. Investigators and contractors soon found they had more choices. But the burden of discovery passed to those seeking the grants and contracts.

Unfortunately, with so many federal and state agencies offering up extramural grants and contracts, one could spend weeks online trying to keep up with the latest and best-fit opportunities. It wasn’t until 2002 that a centralized federal online resource, Grants.Gov,was established as a searchable clearing house to help the public. That same year, use of the business counterpart website, FBO.Gov (FedBizOpps), was declared mandatory for all federal business opportunities exceeding $25K.

Today, the systems are still not perfect, but they have come far. Grants.Gov boasts information on over 1,000 grant programs worth over $400B. FBO.Gov does not quote hard numbers, but if you read our primer on Federal Spending on Grants and Contracts, you will see that funds openly competed on the contracts side far outweigh those available on the grants side. A few agencies have been slow to complete their migration over to the super-websites and continue to use other announcement vehicles such as their own websites, the Federal Register, and the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA).

Although the Grants.Gov and FBO.Gov. websites were created to also centrally process proposal submittals – a desperately needed function – you will sometimes be routed to a separate website for solicitation documents and submittal instructions (e.g. NECO - the Navy's official website for electronic commerce).  Often, you would be well-advised to get to know the websites of the agencies being serviced. Information including financial and progress reports often needs to be routed directly to the administrative website of your sponsor (e.g. NIH, DOE) so it can keep tabs on your activities.

State governments have also kept pace with centralizing grant and contract information, and generally, the search and application pathways are not quite so tortuous.  We list the relevant websites state-by-state on our Hard-to-Find Resources page.  Unfortunately, there is no "free" directory embracing ALL public-sector opportunities nation-wide, but a number of pay-by-subscription resources exist online. 

The internet has also been a boon to foundations, companies, and individuals seeking proposals worthy of their specific missions. Indexing the diversity of opportunities and keeping these lists current is a huge task, but there are several excellent online resources including the Foundation Center, Fundsnet Services, NOZA, and, Development Director.

Help in Cyberspace

Consultants in the proposal business have done their best to keep pace with this changing landscape. You will find riches in many of their websites, but you may need to bookmark several sites to cover your range of needs.  The folks at Capture Planning (www.captureplanning.com) maintain an excellent library of free and for-members-only articles on proposal writing and business development.

Rather than simply repeat what I have seen, Proposal Exponent will provide relevant resources that are harder to find or challenging to distill down from existing websites.

Have you ever wondered exactly how many dollars the federal government awards each year in the form of contracts and grants? How your favorite agency ranks? Whether awards in your domain have been competed truly openly? Who your competitors are? Click on Federal Spending on Grants and Contracts - A Big Picture Primer.  I think reading this essay this will be well worth 15 minutes of your time.

Do you compete for Research and Development funding from federal agencies? Click on Federal R&D Funding – Quick Agency Profiles for an overview and up-to-date, informative capsules on how a dozen U.S. agencies will spend over $145 billion annually on research and development.

Or try the link to Hard-to-Find Resources for brief explanations of uncommon resources I have created or discovered and subjects that just always seem hard to understand.  Here you can find short primers on indirect costs, SBIR/STTR grants, the GSA, business planning, and research ethics, as well as how to locate state and local government funding opportunities. 

I do my best to keep my Resource pages dynamic, with regular uploadings of new, useful information. Please bookmark the page, and remember to visit again soon to see what's new.